Wednesday, September 9, 2020

On a distressing news day, here's an old postcard of a good boy

“... You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus. ... ”

[Record scratch]

You're probably wondering why I'm crafting a blog post about a silly old postcard on a day featuring forboding orange skies across California, first-graders all over the nation trying to navigate Zoom, and infuriating revelations from a guy who once covered a burglary involving plumbers in the 1970s and is now giving us the lowdown on who knew what and when in the year 2020.

Why? Because, if only for a minute or two, perhaps we need a little break.

Enter Chum.

Ths EKC real photo postcard dates to between 1930 and 1950, based on the design of the stamp box on the back, which is mostly pristine. The text on the front states:

296 "Chum" Goff's Pacific Cottages — Seaside, Oregon

And the name Boyer is printed in the lower right-hand corner. The photographer and/or publisher, I reckon.

Seaside, located in northwestern Oregon, is a small city that today bills itself as "a place to relax, recreate, or contemplate the complexities of the universe." It seems it's always been a bit of a vacation spot. Here's a little advertisement from the June 24, 1932, edition of The Oregon Statesman for Goff's Pacific Cottages:

I can't find anything about Chum, though. He looks like he belongs in a Charles Grodin movie; perhaps Beethoven, of course, or the wonderful Seems Like Old Times. Chum also looks like a good boy who probably doesn't need a lot beach time, given all that fluffy fur.

So, that's it. I hope y'all enjoyed this moment with Chum.

Now back to your previously scheduled dystopia. Or just spend some time surfing through the Papergreat archives and forgetting about the world. That works, too. Leave a comment and say hello.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Old grocery store photo #1

This week I'll be sharing some old grocery store photos I came across. Most of them aren't that great, but they're interesting artifacts. For many, grocery stores evoke clear memories of our youth. In some ways, they've changed so much over the decades (especially aesthetics and technology). Yet perhaps no change was as stark as the one that occurred this year, when the grocery store experience came to involve masks, social distancing, carts being wiped down, hand-sanitizer kiosks, arrows on the floors (though that was a short-lived thing in our neck of the woods), no small amount of shopper anxiety, and certain shelves being perpetually bare. Many have turned to online ordering and delivery, and might never fully go back.

I don't know the where or the when associated with blurry shot, or any of the other photos in the batch. Best guess would be early to mid 1960s, but perhaps we'll be able to refine that a bit more once all of the photos are here for folks to crowd-source.

The Edgemar sign, as shown in this photo, might refer to Edgemar Dairy in Santa Monica, California. Here's a wonderful recollection, written by a person named Sherri and posted on Chowhound in 2014:
"Growing up in Southern California, 1950s & 60s - A couple of times a week, Otto from Edgemar dairy arrived with milk and whatever else he thought we needed. There was a slot built into our house with metal doors on both sides so he could put it in and we could take it out from the kitchen. He rarely used this since he just walked into the house to re-supply. As kids, we always wanted him to leave sweets but we got eggs, cream et al instead. The Helms bakery man brought us all manners of baked goods. Our ice cream man was grumpy so we called him the Bad Humor Man but he always found a root beer popscicle for me. I never knew that you could buy hairbrushes at the store because of The Fuller Brush man who supplied us with every kind of brush imaginable. Later, early 80s, Virginia Beach, we had a Mennonite dairy deliver milk. It was my huge splurge since it cost more than twice as much as milk from the USN commissary. He also brough ice cream (rarely since it was sinful) and heavy cream that literally stood a spoon in the little glass bottle. Fond memories all."
(Full disclosure: Otto from Edgemar Dairy is no relation.)

Monday, September 7, 2020

Book cover & great link:
"War of Nerves"

I'll provide the usual vital statistics for this silly book. But if you just want to skip ahead to the good stuff, check out Jure's incredibly entertaining 2017 review on the Alpha-60 Books blog.

  • Title: War of Nerves
  • Series: Attar the Merman #2
  • Cover text: "A superhuman avenger battles evil forces bent on the destruction of the sea!"
  • But not that kind of Avenger: Correct.
  • Author: Robert Graham (a pen name for Joe Haldeman)
  • Cover illustrator: David Plourde
  • Back cover blurb: "The villain Rasputin was blackmailing the U.S. Government, threatening to detonate 40 drums of deadly nerve gas in the Caribbean. If he succeeded, it would mean the total destruction of every living thing in the area."
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Cover price: 95 cents
  • Year: 1975
  • Pages: 158
  • Format: Paperback
  • Strange credit: "The voodoo prayer in Chapter 11 was taken from the excellent book Haiti: Black Peasants and Their Religion, by Alfred Métraux. Copyright, ©, 1960, by Editions de la Baconnière."
  • Another strange credit: The copyright and "produced by" credit for the book belong not to the author, but to Lyle Kenyon Engel (1915-1986), who was described as a "fiction factory" in the obituary written by the Los Angeles Times. So we can reckon that Attar the Merman was his idea. He had much more lucrative ideas during his career.
  • First sentence: One moonless night not too long ago, a formation of American PT boats slipped unnoticed past the southeastern corner of Cuba through the Windward Passage and sped west.
  • Last sentence: Attar asked Hamilton for a nice quiet assignment next time.
  • Random sentence from the middle: The president owned real estate in Florida.
  • Best review: As mentioned, please go read Jure's review of this book. Here's just one excerpt: "What does make our hero memorable are his sidekicks which are introduced in the third chapter. This is definitely the highlight of the novel and it requires multiple readings!"
  • Also a great review: Joe Kenney discussed the book in 2010 on his blog, Glorious Trash.
  • Spoiler alert: One of Attar's sidekicks is named Grampus.

Postcard mailed from Addison, Pennsylvania, in 1912

Addison is a tiny borough in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, that was settled in 1798 but not incorporated until the same year this postcard was mailed from there: 1912. It sits along the historic National Road and had a tollhouse for that pike that still stands today. This postcard features the Central Hotel and it was published by The Express Printing Co. of Lititz, Pennsylvania.

The short note on the front states: "Where I ate dinner at Addison." That's it for the message, which is addressed to Miss Almeda Lewellyn at 68 Murray Avenue, Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The April 4, 1928, edition of The Evening Standard of Uniontown notes that "Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Lewellyn and Miss Almeda Lewellyn motored to Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon where they were the guests of relatives." A different Uniontown newspaper, The Morning Herald, notes that Miss Almeda M. Lewellyn, "a well-known local resident," died in Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital at 2:20 o'clock on February 16, 1944, "following a lingering illness." It doesn't state how old she was when she died.

As far as the Central Hotel goes, there's not a lot. A July 1, 2019, Facebook post by the Fayette County Historical Society/Abel Colley Tavern & Museum features the same postcard image and these tidbits:
  • This postcard dates to 1908.
  • I believe the Mitchell family ran it [the hotel] for a while.
  • "Believe Beth-Center had football camp in Addison in 1960, and stayed in this place."
  • "When I visit back home - on my way back to Virginia, I always drive through Addison. Beautiful in autumn."
  • "Grandma Tishue was born there I believe."
  • "yes she was she told me stories of how she had to be quit because of the guests and how she loved to ride down the stair rail she would get into trouble for that. the room just off the main room room you enter is where her father died."

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Real photo postcard: Flooded Sunbury, Pa., in 1936

This real photo postcard was never mailed. On the back, the AZO stamp box has black squares in all four corners, indicating it was produced between 1924 and 1949, according to More importantly, someone has written in pencil, "Market St., Sunbury, 1936." We'll just take their word for it that the time and place are correct. Sunbury is a small city along the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania. It is notable for being the home of the headquarters of Weis, a regional supermarket chain.

As the Sunbury Municipal Authority's Flood Control website notes: "The City of Sunbury is extremely vulnerable to flooding due to its exposure to both the North and West branches of the Susquehanna River and the effects of flash flooding from Shamokin Creek." The website details the flood that occurred in mid-March 1936, in which the water continued to rise until it came "rushing in torrents down Susquehanna Avenue, North Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Streets, carrying destruction and misery in its course." Houses were rocked from their foundations and when the water reached Market Street, "nearly all the plate glass store windows were broken." People sought shelter on the second floors of buildings and boats were called for rescues. We can see some of that on this postcard, as a couple of people are standing out on a second-floor ledge at a business called Bittner's. Other signs are for Miller Bros. Shoes, Light Heat Power Electrical Appliances, and Fisher (?) the Jeweler. There appears to be a Coca-Cola sign near the town clock in the center of the photograph.

At the worst of the 1936 flood, parts of Sunbury were under 15 feet of water. The Flood Control website has many more details about this 1936 natural disaster, including this:
"Radio broadcasting stations throughout the Susquehanna Valley played a big part in the memorable flood of 1936. From Williamsport to Harrisburg radio stations WRAK, Williamsport; WKOK, Sunbury; WHP and WKBO in Harrisburg did much to alleviate suffering, direct life saving activities and send out news to an anxious world outside of the flood area. Short wave operators hurried to the scene of devastation to assist in sending messages for flood victims to friends and relatives in the unaffected parts of the country."1
In a 2016 article for The Daily Item of Sunbury, Jean Delsite vividly remembered experiencing the flood as a 7-year-old girl, 80 years earlier: "I don’t think I was scared. We knew the water would have to stop coming some time. Our concern was hoping it would go down so we could get food."

1. Speaking of the radio, I listened to a few minutes of AM radio on Tuesday evening for the first time in ages. It was a bit surreal and depressing. Boeing had an advertisement about its commitment to working with airlines to boost health precautions during air travel. News reports mentioned Donald Trump, Michelle Obama and Vladimir Putin. I caught snippets of the Orioles-Blue Jays and Marlins-Mets games, but couldn't find the Phillies on the dial. Another advertisement touted telemedicine, so that you didn't have to risk anything by going out. Static-filled ephemeral moments over the airwaves amid a pandemic. These are difficult times for advertisers and for media platforms that need advertising to support their operations. An article in Variety noted: "The bonds between advertisers and the media outlets that serve them have begun to fray." That's not great news, for many reasons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

1976 booklet on UFOs, occult from Southwest Radio Church

  • Title: UFOs and the Occult (B58)
  • Author: Southwest Radio Church, Rev. David F. Webber, Pastor
  • Publisher: Southwest Radio Church
  • Year: 1976
  • Pages: 31 (which includes 8 pages of grainy black-and-white photos)
  • Format: Staplebound
  • Dimensions: 5⅜ inches by 8⅝ inches
  • Price: 1 copy for $3 offering; 2 copies for $5 offering; 5 copies for $10 offering; $1 each in lots of 25 of more; available on cassette for $10 offering
  • Chapter titles:
    • UFOs and the Occult
    • Uri Geller and UFOs
    • UFOs over the Iron Curtain
    • The Bible and Flying Saucers
    • Star Trek — Fact or Fancy?
  • Excerpt #1: "We're going to look into the surprising relationship between UFOs and the world of secret doctrines and sinister practices known as the occult. ... Today, almost every bookstore has a section devoted expressly to these practices that are forbidden by God. And above such a section, you'll usually see a placard emblazoned with the word 'occult.' There you will also find several books devoted to the study of UFOs."
  • Excerpt #2: "Next, we'll look at Ted Owens, a Cape Charles, Virginia, man who claims that he is the spokesman for the 'Saucer Intelligences,' or 'SI's' as he calls them. Mr. Owens might be dismissed as just another crackpot, except for one thing. When he pulls off one of his mental feats, members of the news media are usually present in force."
  • Excerpt #3: "Geller is now 29 years old, and 30 is the age at which Jesus began his public ministry. On December 20th, 1976, Uri Geller will be 30 years old. Is he also building up to a public ministry of his own sort? There are no indications that he is a man of God. Let us be watchful then, and wary of this man, indeed of ALL men who offer a psychic pathway to salvation."
  • Excerpt #4: "Our age is very special. Never before have we known so much about the world, and never before have we suffered so much for it. Political, economic, and military upheavals around the globe are daily occurrences. Famine is rampant in large parts of the world. Environmental deterioration threatens to alter our way of life permanently. Serious crimes are on the upsurge everywhere. Rich powers are stockpiling nuclear armaments, while poorer nations watch in dread. We are seeing strange and threatening changes in our natural habitat. Even the weather is playing havoc with our world lately. Our planet is being increasingly ravaged by natural disasters: tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and drought have decimated food crops around the world and have left millions homeless and destitute. Undersea volcanic activity is on the rise."
  • Excerpt #5: "The prophet Ezekiel saw a definite object coming down from the sky. It was beryl, an aluminum like metal — it had the appearance of lamps — in other words there were several lights on it, and from the prophet's description, these lights must have been of different colors. From underneath the flying machine there was an exhaust of the power system, which Ezekiel described as a bright fire that came out like lightning. And as this flying machine hovered near the ground, Ezekiel saw several of the occupants, whom he described as living creatures with four faces and feet with soles like the bottom of a calf's foot."
  • Excerpt #6: "Certainly, the earth has been visited by astronauts from outer space for thousands of years. The Bible clearly confirms this. The earth is under observation — not from creatures from other planets who have evolved to a higher degree of intelligence than man — but rather by the angels of God who were created by Him for universal service in His kingdom."
  • Excerpt #7: "Whether all this is fact, fancy, or witchcraft, may be a matter of opinion. However it is impossible to deny that something is happening in the heavenlies. We believe that it is the forces of heaven, both the armies of Satan and the angels of God, preparing for a battle of the ages, probably just a few years from now!"
  • About Southwest Radio Church: According to the church itself: "Southwest Radio Church of the Air began in April 1933, when Dr. E.F. Webber, pastor of a local church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, preached a prophetic message over a local radio station, KTOK. His radio program was his radio church — thus the name, Southwest Radio Church. As the storm clouds of war began to rise over Europe and Asia, Dr. Webber was convinced that the world was entering the last generation. ... From 1933 to the present time, this ministry format has not changed." ... Noah Hutchings (1922-2015) was for many decades the host of the daily syndicated radio show "Your Watchman on the Wall." A primary focus of the show was biblical prophecy about the end times. Hutchings made predictions about the rapture, pondered whether Pope John Paul II might be the Antichrist, believed in the giants, Atlantis and UFOs, didn't believe in evolution, and was very stressed out about Y2K. We can only imagine what his thoughts might have been about the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Long Way Down (One Last Thing): Southwest Radio Church has had many publications over the decades. Here's a link to another one, from 1980, that's featured on Flashbak.

Related posts

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Great links: "Cull of the Wild"

On August 1, The Washington Post published an piece with the online headline: "Readers have many opinions on how to cull your book collection — and also why you never should." It begins: "When the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the United States earlier this year, forcing Americans to shelter in place, many suddenly realized just how cramped their homes were. It was now impossible to ignore the sheer amount of stuff we had, bursting from dressers and desk drawers, closets and bookcases."

For sure, having too much stuff is a First World Problem. Complaining about it is a sure sign of privilege amid a pandemic. There are too many with too little. We're going to be OK if the dresser drawer doesn't shut tight.

But too many books? That's just some nonsense right there. The Washington Post article details some who are aggressively pruning, culling, dismantling their home libraries. Hearteningly, it also includes the voices of those who advocate keeping their books, thank you very much.

“It is a fallacy of the ‘Kondo World’ that we need to get rid of our books," writes LadyManx. "Our leaders do not read. Look what that has gotten us. While it is fine to move so-so books along, books love us and whisper their thoughts to us, as we pass their covers. Can an ereader do that? Trying to find a favorite phrase or vignette in an ebook is a time-wasting fraud. My real books fall open to what I need. A book bought a long while ago will not call to me till years later and I’ll wonder how I knew to have it for just such a moment.

I also had some deep thoughts and empathy reading the comments section of the short article, in which some wonder about the endgame of their lifetime of bibliophilia:

  • "I have been saving my books since the mid 80s and have more than 2,000. I wish I could find someone or an organization that wants them."
  • "I recently realized I have more books on my TBR shelf and my Kindle than I have time left in my life to read them all, and my heirs have no desire to inherit my collection. I've called a moratorium on buying new books, and I'm suffering withdrawal pains. It takes all of my willpower to not browse used book sites; I love to read and I love a bargain. But life is shorter than I thought."
  • "With several downsizing moves in my past, I've given away hundreds of books. My strategy for feeling joy rather than loss is to spend an inordinate amount of time finding the right home for the right books."
  • "Having dealt with the frightening amount 'stuff' my parents left after they died (including a shoe repair receipt from 1958!), I vowed never to 'bequeath' the same to my descendants. I keep some relevant reference books and immediately, if possible, give away the fiction when finished. I don't want my family spending inordinate amounts time dealing with objects I could not be bothered to make a decision about when, instead, they could be reading a good book!"
  • "I love every single one of my many books, some inform me, others have memories attached to them and some bring me joy. I will never get rid of my books and when I see people walking down the street unaware of their surroundings because they are looking at their phones I am glad that will never be me. I pay attention to the world, to nature, to the people walking around me. The only time I get lost in another place is when I am with my books. My collection is permanent, I will never cull it, it is a part of me."
  • "Keep your books, let someone else worry about 'culling.'"
  • Before you clear out a deceased relative's book collection ... be sure to thumb through the pages. People of a certain generation made it a habit to conceal things in the pages of books. Currency, old stock certificates, and letters come to mind.

Finally, I love everything about this long note that Sandy Lawrence left in the Washington Post article's comments section:
"I am in the 'brimming bookshelves' in every room category.

"A few months ago, on a whim, I purchased 5 old school readers on ebay that were published in the early 1900s. When they arrived, I discovered that each of the books were filled with drawings and writings and had the name and town of the child who had originally owned it. I spent a few happy hours on ancestry tracking down what the rest of those children's lives had looked like.

"Based on their dates of death and how the seller came by the books, it was obvious that each of those 5 people had felt their school book had had enough personal meaning that they'd held on to them for the rest of their lives.

"This prompted me to look through my own brimming bookcases and pull out a small stack of about 50 books that had real personal meaning to me because I'd read them at a specific time in my life or because I'd found something in the words that had resonated and changed my perspective on life.

"However, I realized that no one will know that when I am gone. So, I have started writing short notes that I place in each of the books explaining why these were important books to me. My hope is that when I'm gone this will help my children decide which books to keep (and hopefully, to read). Call it a guide to mom's life through her books.

"As for the others, it will be easier now (I think) to rehome many of them. All books are wonderful, but only some are personal. I can finally let go of the ones that aren't personal and don't have real meaning to me, and that is a relief."

But wait, there's more
I've mentioned it before, but Roger Ebert's 2009 essay "Books do furnish a life" is an enjoyable short read.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Real photo postcard:
Steam Valley Mountain sign

I love the moody clouds in this real photo postcard featuring a sign for Steam Valley Mountain in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. It's a Devolite Peerless RPPC, which, according to, means it was produced in 1950 or after. The postcard was never written on or mailed. It was part of a series by Caulkins Photo of Morris, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community in Tioga County that's known, according to Wikipedia, for its annual Rattlesnake Round-Up.

There are two things of note I could find about Steam Valley Mountain.

#1: Since 1939, Fry Brothers' Turkey Ranch and Restaurant has been located atop the mountain. According to its website: "The restaurant was opened at the current location on Mothers’ Day in 1939 and specialized in turkey dinners at a time when turkey was a rare delicacy. World War II forced the restaurant’s temporary closing but the brothers continued raising turkeys and kept the market going, raising up to 15,000 turkeys per year for the war effort." ... A Tripadvisor review from just a few days ago is headlined "Wonderful - They are taking distancing seriously" and notes: "Our first real restaurant experience since February. They take it seriously, maintaining proper distancing in seating and requiring masks. The food was exceptional. All three of us ordered the #1 and it was a complete dinner including sherbet. We stopped after hiking some of the PA Grand Canyon and heading home."

#2: There was a "bigfoot" sighting in the Steam Valley area in 1971. Here's an excerpt from the recollection by Daniel Burkhart on the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website: "I looked to see what was causing the water to be so dirty, and when I turned my head back to the east, I saw this large hairy creature standing just across the stream from me, about 6 or 7 feet away I guess. It was massive. Hair covered it from head to toe, with a bald-like face. It's eyes were dark, and It made no movements toward me or away. This creature was pretty quiet for being so big. I was terrified, and sat frozen, only able to stare into 'it's' eyes."